The New England Patriots will look to respond after losing a tough one against the Miami Dolphins last week. It is a rather important game for the Patriots, as they are still not statistically included in the playoffs at the moment. It would take an unlikely scenario for them to be shown the door, but as it is, the Patriots have something to play for. They’ll travel to Baltimore this week, for a meeting with a team that has been a thorn in their side the last several years for the most part. Minus the Billy Cundiff choke job in the playoffs a couple seasons ago, the Ravens have spoiled the Patriots’ plans before, including a season ago. While the Pats are looking to secure a playoff spot, the Ravens put them into an interesting position after downing the Lions on MNF last week. The Ravens are looking to play spoiler in the 2013 playoffs, as the defending Super Bowl champions are looking for a Wild Card for an invitation to the party.
I personally split last week with a push, 2-2-1. The way we’ve been putting up winners this week, a week where I broke around even feels like a losing week in a way. It has been a profitable 2013 regardless as we head into the final two weeks of the season. At the moment I am posting a record of 37-20-1 which is 65%, just a sliver above the 64% I hit during baseball season. Let’s finish this season out strong and head into the postseason on a high note these final two weeks.
Patriots vs. Ravens Betting Odds:
New England Patriots +2(-110)
@Baltimore Ravens -2(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Patriots vs. Ravens Pick:
If the Patriots were healthy, or at least a littler healthier than they are, I would say they have a legitimate shot at making the Super Bowl. It couldn’t be anything further from the truth though, as they’ve been banged up at nearly all positions this season. Most notably, the Patriots lost Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork early, and now recently lost the center-piece of their offense, Rob Gronkowski. They’ve also had trouble staying healthy at the wide receiver position, as Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have been nursing injuries for the last several weeks. Dobson seemed to be turning the corner as a rookie following a rough start, so it was an unfortunate blow. They’ve had to rely on an offense centered around Julian Edelman, and while Edelman is a solid player, he is not who you want to base the offense on. Dobson and Thompkins most likely are going to return this week, which doesn’t seem like much, but I think it’ll give Tom Brady some much needed assistance in the passing game. Against the Dolphins he had Edelman and Austin Collie, enough said. The offense hasn’t looked anything like its former self on the field or statistically. However, even though they have gone through this much turmoil, the Patriots are still 8th in the league in yards per game, and are scoring 26.4 points a game. It definitely doesn’t feel like that, but we’ve been so used to the offense putting up monster numbers, that the 8th ranked offense in the NFL feels like so much of a difference.
The defense has improved from the days when they were putting up 40 points a game. In fact, they are one of the best defenses at forcing turnovers. The defense didn’t lose the game for the Pats last week, they held strong, it was just the offenses inability to come through. While 24th in the NFL in yards allowed per game looks like garbage, they still buckle down and show up in the red zone. The Patriots are allowing 22 points a game, which is below the league average. If there is one area they are susceptible at the moment, it is up the middle stopping the run. The absence of Wilfork plugging up running lanes is evident. Linebacker Jerod Mayo was also spectacular defending the run game. However, the Ravens ground game has been non-existent. It looks like Ray Rice is beginning to slow down considerably, as many running backs do after a few years in the NFL. Especially for a back of Ray’s stature, perhaps he’s been getting beat up a little too much to keep at the pace he was the last several years. The Ravens are heading into this matchup 29th in yards per game rushing. The offense has felt the effects of no run game, as they are scoring only 21 points a game.
People watched on Monday night as the Ravens got by against the Lions on a 61-yard field goal from Justin Tucker. Yeah they won, but it just showcased how bad their offense has been this season. The Lions have a secondary that should have been torched, the Ravens made them look like a good unit, though. If it wasn’t for a few generous calls that went the Ravens way, there is no way they would have won that game and everyone would be on the Patriots bandwagon this week. But because they won I think people are looking at Baltimore in this game. This should be a close game, so I don’t know if either side is necessarily a bad pick in the game. I believe the Patriots will be able to get out of this matchup with a W and clinch a spot in the playoffs. The Patriots aren’t the same team they’ve been, nor are the Ravens, but I’ll wager on Bill Belichick to pull this game out. If Dobson and Thompkins return, which they are scheduled to, the offense will get a much needed boost from a week ago. The lack of a running game should really hurt Baltimore in this game, which should play in to the opportunistic Patriots’ defense. I’ll be taking the points Sunday afternoon.
PICK: Patriots +2(-110)